Back in my Junior High (7th and 8th grade) days I was introduced to the concept of penpals - someone you meet and begin a relationship with based on writing letters. In a sense, it was the social media of the day - the very early sixties.
The concept was simple. A company called Internationl Youth Service in Turku , Finlnd awould for a nominal fee send you the name and address of someone with the similar interests as you and you would simply begin corresponding with them. Although they ceased operation in 2008, you can read about IYS here.
One of the first names I received was Dieter Eiche - I even remember his address - Fliserstrasse 11, Balingen, Germany. We corresponded regularly, usually once monthly for four years during our high school years. He entered the military after graduating and we only occasionally corresponded for a couple more years until we stopped. But we had formed a fairly strong friendship and it was truly one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done.
We moved to Texas in 1994 when the electronics industry in the SF Bay Area went into the tank. Small companies I was doing consulting and custom programming for could suddenly get PHD level help for the same fees I charged so Lynn and I hit the road. About 4 years after the move, I ws sitting at my desk in Fort Worth when I received an email from Dieter. I was stunned and delighted. We quickly traded a few emails and caught up with each other. Dieter was a Judge in Germany.
Letter writing is considered passe in these days of texting, email, blogging and the many forms of social media. Blogging, frankly, has replaced penpals for me. The net result is the same - I get to interact with people all around the world and I have developed strong friendships that make the entire blogging effort worthwhile. There are Ramana, Maria and Pravin in India, Ursula in the UK, a few in Australia and of course many here in the U.S.A.. I heartily recommend blogging as a way to meet people, enjoy discussion/debate and even argue (civilly of course). If you are shy or do not know how to start, a blogging group like the LBC is a great place to start since the entire group writes on the same topic every Friday.